Some hotels offer all the comforts of home, trying to lure in reluctant travelers who enjoy the creature comforts of their family and their homes. Others are designed to offer guests a new, luxurious experience, including everything from fancy jetted tubs to computerized toilets that have to be seen to be believed. These fun features serve a dual purpose – they make your stay more memorable and also encourage you to spread the word about your extraordinary stay.
One area where modern hotels are going above and beyond is technology. Rooms have more bells and whistles than they used to, and a growing number of customers are also bringing their mobile devices along, which requires hotel owners to create fresh, innovative products and services to create a satisfying, wonderful experience.
- Self check-in: Airlines allow passengers to scan their ticket themselves, receive a boarding pass and drop off their luggage. The Hyatt Union Square in New York offers the choice of going to the front desk, visiting an automated lobby kiosk to verify registration and receive a key, or contacting an employee through their iPad for a live conversation. Some Marriott hotels are also experimenting with remote check-ins, where the hotels contact guests prior to arrival to verify everything and alert them when their room is ready. From a hotel perspective, self-serve check-ins can allow staff to spend more time with guests who need extra help.
- Fun with mobile: Some hotels encourage guests to access their services through apps on their mobile devices, including ordering an in-room movie from an iPhone or making a dinner reservation with a tablet. Some Las Vegas casinos also have touch-screen computers built into restaurant tables so guests can browse menus or play games. Others, like the hotel M in the Netherlands, provide guests with a special device called a MoodPad that adjusts the room lights to any color and intensity. All of these can help guests feel comfortable with the technology and have a role in customizing their experience.
- Better guest relations: The Hotel Lugano Dante Center in Switzerland issues iPads to its staff who use them to meet every guest request, and assist with everything from travel plans to allowing them to select what type of toilet paper they prefer. Hotel Technology Next Generation, a hotel trade association, said employee iPads sync with the front desk and each other so everyone knows what every guest has already shared or requested. The program was commended for building loyalty, showing strong customer service, and also cutting down on paper usage.
- Smart windows: At the W Hotel in San Francisco, the windows sense when there is too much sun coming in, and darken to block light and heat. When the sun isn’t coming directly in, or it’s a cloudy day, they’re less shaded. It’s a similar principle to photochromatic glasses that change based on available light. Guests like that they don’t have to squint or move seats if gets too bright, and hotels also like the environmental efficiency and cost-savings.
Stephanie is a freelance writer and contributor to a number of technology and marketing blogs. She likes curling up to a good romance novel at night.